Peter McCauley, HDFS Graduate Student Spotlight, February 2023

Peter McCauleyPeter McCauley joined the HDFS department in the Fall of 2022 and is working with Dr. Ryan Watson. Before coming to UConn, he attended the University of Kentucky, earning a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Spanish and Linguistics and graduated Summa Cum Laude. While at the University of Kentucky, he was a research assistant in Dr. Christia Brown’s Social Inequality in Development Lab. Under the direction of Dr. Brown, Peter worked on research examining how children develop and perceive stereotypes and how various forms of school-based discrimination affect historically marginalized youth. He also volunteered as an ESL tutor for first-generation immigrant elementary school students in local public schools.

During his final year at the University of Kentucky, Peter conducted his honors thesis examining why and when adolescents perpetrate gender-based harassment, and the contextual factors, such as sexual prejudice and gender typicality, that influence the frequency of this harassment within schools. This line of work motivated Peter to join the SHINE (Sexuality, Health, and INtersectional Experiences) lab to study queer identity development and experiences with bias-based harassment. While at UConn, Peter hopes to research how bias-based harassment, and the emotional distress as a result of experiencing this type of harassment within schools, influences queer youth’s well-being and identity development. Additionally, he hopes to use this work to leverage intervention methods that reduce the amount of harassment youth face, with the long term goal of creating healthy learning environments for all.

Peter is excited to be continuing his academic journey at UConn in a department that is highly involved with applied research surrounded by supportive faculty and colleagues. He looks forward to expanding his knowledge and working in the SHINE lab throughout his years at UConn. When not working, Peter loves to explore new vegan recipes, play his violin, and has recently tried his hand at baking (currently unsuccessfully) with his partner, Carson.